Every player has a niche, especially the great ones. They have a certain style of play or preferred game plan that best fits their abilities. LeBron is best when he is surrounded by shooters. It clears out the lane and gives him a two way go: drive and dish or slash to the bucket. Harden won his first MVP award playing isolation ball, which allowed him to dictate the flow of the offense and get his points by mismatches and one on one encounters. Chris Paul however is by far one of the better pick and roll maestros to ever play the game. He thrives in an offense with talented or at least capable big men. It’s such an easy way to score points because once the screen is set is usually leads to a mismatch on the defensive switch, or a shell shocked defender having to decide whether to stick to the shooter or chase the lob/ post pass.
The Pass-First Play-Style
CP3 has been the prototype point guard for much of his 17-year career. Paul has never really been a dominant scorer, but much more of a selfless facilitator. There were years where he averaged 20+ points, but they were accompanied by an almost 12 assists a game output. This pass-first mentality has him on the track to be one of the greatest TRUE point guards in NBA history. It also got him dubbed as the Point God long before he became a hall of fame lock.
For those old enough to remember, the Los Angeles Clippers were for a long time seen as the basement dweller at Staples. They were a laughing stock amongst the NBA world. From 1981 to 2004 they had only been to two post-seasons and lost each in the first round. However many believed that the Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan led team was the most playoff destined team in years. The superstar point guard paired with 2 athletic bigs at the 4 and 5 made his pick and roll game a thing to behold. He would often toss a beautifully placed lob to a cutting Jordan or use the great screen to pull up and shoot. This versatility caused great confusion amongst the defense, and turned the Clippers into top dogs.
Paul was traded in the off-season of the 2017-18 season after 6 seasons of Western Conference dominance, yet no real playoff success. His next destination paired him with a top 5 scorer of all-time. The often controversial, James Harden. This back court duo set the league on fire and drew comparisons to the legendary guard pair of Earl Monroe and Clyde Frazier. However, as great as they were, the spot light belongs on the center-guard relationship between Capela and Paul. Once again Chris was at his absolute point guard best with a capable big-man to run the pick and roll with. Now you can begin to sense a trend here, right?
Oklahoma City Thunder
After a falling out with former Rockets superstar, James Harden, Paul was dealt to the Thunder. They had just come off a playoff berth the previous year, but without Westbrook and two years removed from Paul George they seemed to be eyeing a rebuild. Many expected the Thunder to be bottom feeders that year, but CP3 saw things differently. He and his youthful new teammates were a surprise playoff team in the western conference. Once again a key to the team’s success was CP’s chemistry with his talented Center. Steven Adams was a towering behemoth and used every bit of that frame to bully his way into the post. This duo became nearly unstoppable.
Chris’s 5th career destination was in Phoenix Arizona. This was a team with a lot of young talent and untapped potential. The acquisition of Paul made immediate dividends as they finished 2nd in the West just 1 game behind the Conference leading Jazz. This was a dramatic change for a team that was 15th in 2019, and 10th in 2020. However as great as Booker, Bridges, and the rest of the supporting cast was; Chris and Deandre Ayton formed a bond similar to the others he’d had in his 3 most recent stops. Ayton was a towering big man at 7’1” making him a perfect screen and roll parter, and lob city finisher. This formula has served Chris well, but this was the first time it led him all the way to the NBA finals. With a revamped Suns team and their three best players playing like stars the sky is the limit for the Suns and CP3.
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The “CP3” Formula The “CP3” Formula The “CP3” Formula